I first learned about Grief and Loss during a senior level psychology class at Concordia University taught by Registered Psychologist and Owner of The Grief & Trauma Healing Center, Ashley Mielke. I was astonished by the powerful information she taught us about grief and recovering from loss. I quickly learned that everything I thought grief was, was not. I intuitively knew that I would pursue Grief Recovery® for my future career.
After completing the psychology course, I truly believed that because I had learned all of the intellectual information about grief and recovering from loss, that I could apply that new knowledge to my life and my losses would be healed. Well, I was wrong. After completing my Certification Training in The Grief Recovery Method® Program this month, I realized I was still emotionally incomplete with the loss I thought I had healed from. It wasn’t until I had taken the actions of the program myself, that I became complete with my loss. Through the training, I personally witnessed and experienced the transformational power of The Grief Recovery Method Program®.
Grief is not intellectual.
Everything that I have been taught while completing my psychology degree has had a focus on intellectual knowledge and application. I have learned several theories, read numerous textbooks, and written countless exams. What has not been emphasized in my education, is the power and significance of human emotion, vulnerability, matters of the heart, and emotional application.
Through my personal experience of being a griever, I quickly became aware of how emotionally useless the intellectual information I learned was. It did not help me when others would respond to my grief with advice or intellectual comments. I did not like being told what to do or what worked for them. When I was grieving, and was the most vulnerable and emotional I had ever felt, all I wanted was to feel heard and to have a safe place to express my emotions.
Grief is emotional, not intellectual. I appreciate that sharing your losses and grief with others can be very scary. Having had the privilege of exploring and sharing my losses with perfect strangers in a safe environment during my training, gave me insight into the emotional challenges (and courage) that my clients may face while completing The Grief Recovery Method® Program with myself. Without having gone through the program myself, I know I would have a difficult time helping my clients connect their minds to their hearts, to truly heal from their losses. I appreciate how important it is for me to be a “heart with ears” for my clients as they courageously take the actions of The Grief Recovery Method® Program. Ashley Mielke, Canadian Certification Trainer for The Grief Recovery Method® taught me, I can only take my clients as far in their healing and recovery, as I have gone with my own.
Discovery is not recovery.
You can have all of the intellectual information available, read every book, and have a deep understanding of your losses, but that is not enough. Action must be taken to heal your heart. I learned this through personal experience. I have known the intellectual information about Grief Recovery® for a few years, and even taught others about what I have learned. I thought that knowing the information was enough to complete my losses. Discovery masqueraded my recovery. After completing The Grief Recovery Method® Program, I learned the significance of taking new action, in order to attain completion with my losses. You can read The Grief Recovery Handbook, but recovery is achieved by taking the actions of the program. It is like reading a recipe; you have the information and steps to bake a cake, but the cake will not bake itself until you choose to take action.
A group environment allowed me to feel safe and heard.
I had the amazing privilege of working with 16 incredible people in my Certification Training. With the exception of knowing our facilitator, Ashley Mielke, I walked into the training on Friday morning knowing none of the other participants, and walked out on the following Monday afternoon with lifelong friendships. Participating in a group environment and sharing my story with others was a profound emotional experience. Although we were all very unique and different, every one of us shared two common goals; to learn how to help ourselves heal and recover from loss, and to learn how to help others heal and recover from loss.
When I was sharing my losses with the group, I felt heard, without judgment and intellectual analysis. At times in our daily lives, there are distractions like cell phones, cooking dinner, watching TV, or other activities that are going on when we are attempting to communicate our feelings with important others in our lives. These distractions can leave us feeling unheard, emotionally unsafe, and that we are not important enough to be listened to. In a room full of people I had just met, I felt safe to share my losses and that my feelings were worth being heard. Everyone was listening to me like a “heart with ears” and were empathetic and compassionate to my experiences.
I look forward to taking what I have learned both personally and professionally, and applying it in my facilitation of the 8-Week Grief Recovery Method® Grief Support Group to provide that same opportunity for others to feel heard, without judgement, criticism, and analysis, in a safe and structured group environment.
The Grief Recovery Method® Program has changed my perspective on life, relationships, and effective recovery from loss. My experience working within a group environment was life changing. I was passionate about pursuing Grief Recovery® before my training and even more so now after having completed the program myself. I am astounded with how powerful the program actually is. I feel more passionate and inspired than ever before to work with grieving people and to participate in their life-altering journey to recovery.
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This article was written by Gina Baretta, Certified Grief Recovery Specialist® and Ashley Mielke, Owner & Director at The Grief & Trauma Healing Centre. Visit www.healmyheart.ca for information about our grief counselling services and Grief Recovery Method® Programs.